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Caretakers may experience workplace discrimination

In today's society it is not uncommon for people to be caretakers. Americans are getting older and many in their prime working years are also responsible for taking care of aging parents and grandparents as their medical problems become more severe. Furthermore, there are more single-parent families than ever before, leaving one parent to work and provide care for children.

In these situations, caretakers may find that they need special accommodations at work in order to be able to fulfill their duties as caretaker while working outside the home. These accommodations may range from a shift change, to the ability to take a phone call while on the job, to any variety of needs. However, under current California employment laws an employer does not need to provide these accommodations.

Therefore, many workers may experience workplace discrimination based on their status as caretaker. When caretaking duties interrupt work, an employer may choose to terminate or otherwise punish the worker. An employer might also choose not to hire a particular worker in the first place if the employer learns that the employee is a caretaker.

Proposed legislation in the California legislature is looking to protect caregivers from any potential workplace discrimination. This legislation would protect employees that provide supervisory or medical care to a parent, spouse or child. However, business groups are opposing the legislation by claiming it is too vague.

Workplace discrimination against workers -- for a variety of reasons -- is prevalent in California workplaces. When workers face this unfair treatment, they may have legal rights. Workers should understand that workplace discrimination based on the workers race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or national origin are already illegal. Hopefully, a person's status as caretaker will be added to this list soon.

Source: The Spokesman-Review, "Bills would protect caregivers from discrimination," Jim Fitzgerald, Feb. 17, 2014

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